Tag Archives: Fan Art

What Have I Done??”

So back when I first start­ed this site, I had in mind cre­at­ing a tra­di­tion of doing Franken­stein-relat­ed art for Hal­loween, when I had time. It’s been awhile since I did one. So here you go!

Mil­ton the Mon­ster is one of those car­toons from my child­hood that I’ve always looked back on fond­ly. Cer­tain car­toon prop­er­ties are well-remem­bered and seem to come back for revivals every so often. Mil­ton is one of those car­toons that seems to have slid into obscu­ri­ty, unfor­tu­nate­ly. Most car­toon fans either don’t remem­ber it, or have nev­er heard of it.

For those who don’t know about the show, the con­cep­t’s right there in the show’s theme song! Take a look. I had­n’t watched the show in a long time, so doing this cov­er was an excuse to watch some episodes and refresh my mem­o­ry. Yes, it’s def­i­nite­ly lim­it­ed TV ani­ma­tion, and the jokes can get a lit­tle corn­ball, but I still get a kick out of it. If some­one were to actu­al­ly do a revival of this show, it would be a blast to be involved!

Search­ing for actu­al char­ac­ter mod­els to draw from, I could­n’t find any. I have a sense that TV ani­ma­tion in the ’60s some­times had a much broad­er inter­pre­ta­tion of “on-mod­el” than what it does now, or even when I start­ed work­ing in ani­ma­tion in the ear­ly ’90s. It’s sur­pris­ing to see how much the look of the char­ac­ters on this show can fluc­tu­ate from episode to episode, depend­ing on the animator.

And of course, this had to be a Gold Key cov­er. They actu­al­ly did pub­lish one issue of a Mil­ton the Mon­ster com­ic back in the mid-’60s. If you were a kid in the ’60s and want­ed to buy a com­ic book fea­tur­ing your favorite ani­mat­ed character(s), Gold Key had the rights pret­ty much sewn up to all of them!

Any­way, I hope you enjoy this. And Hap­py Halloween!

When Titans Clash!

Long­time vis­i­tors to this site may remem­ber that I got my start in ani­ma­tion work­ing on X‑Men: the Ani­mat­ed Series. That meant my first boss was Lar­ry Hous­ton, who I came to con­sid­er both my men­tor in the busi­ness, and a friend. Lar­ry’s now get­ting to enjoy much-deserved recog­ni­tion for his con­tri­bu­tions to X‑Men, as well as a num­ber of oth­er car­toons peo­ple think of fond­ly from their youth.

But before he got into ani­ma­tion, Lar­ry aspired to do comics. And he did! In his 20’s, he self-pub­lished three issues of his own com­ic, The Enforcers, with a lit­tle help from his friends.

Those comics have been out of print for years. But not long ago, Lar­ry decid­ed to re-pub­lish them all togeth­er in one big col­lec­tion. You can pur­chase it off of Lar­ry’s site, using the link above, in either dig­i­tal or phys­i­cal form. Orig­i­nal­ly his comics were in black and white (as was typ­i­cal for inde­pen­dent comics in those days), but this time it’s in full color!

I ordered myself a copy, and I found it a real blast. You can feel the excite­ment on the page, that “we’re doing our own comics!” Of course there are some rough edges, but you can see Lar­ry and friends learn­ing their craft and improv­ing vis­i­bly with each issue. It’s cer­tain­ly bet­ter than what I was doing in my 20’s! The art has a real ener­gy to it, and so does the dia­logue. There’s this ’70s Mar­vel/qua­si-Roy Thomas feel to it. I real­ly enjoyed the com­ic quite a bit!

So this is a bit of fan art on my part, recre­at­ing the cov­er of the col­lec­tion (which was also the cov­er to the orig­i­nal issue #3). But of course, it’s not just a straight re-cre­ation. I always have to have some kind of spin on it, or re-inter­pre­ta­tion. In this case, the idea was to tweak it slight­ly in some aspects to make it look even more like a main­stream com­ic from that late ’70s peri­od. Except for one or two pan­els, these sto­ries feel like they could have seen print in a Comics Code-approved book of that era.

So Lar­ry: thanks, and much respect always! Hav­ing read these sto­ries, I’d real­ly like to see you do some new comics with your char­ac­ters, using all the sto­ry­telling craft you’ve picked up in the inter­ven­ing years.

Lar­ry Hous­ton’s The Enforcers are ™ & ©1975, 1978, 1979 and 2018 Lar­ry F. Houston.

Jeff Bonivert’s Atomic Man

Atomic-ManAnd now, for some­thing com­plete­ly different!”

I’m dig­ging deep for this one. The ’80s saw a lot of inter­est­ing, fun, odd, inde­pen­dent comics. Jeff Bonivert’s Atom­ic Man Comics was one of them.

I don’t remem­ber just how I first encoun­tered Jeff Bonivert’s work, but it most def­i­nite­ly caught my eye. It’s unique for the abstract geo­met­ric and graph­ic way he approach­es his draw­ings. I pick up a bit of an art deco or stream­lined feel to it in places. There’s no mis­tak­ing his work for any­one else’s.

I believe that like me, Jeff is from the Bay Area. There was a time in the ’80s when we even worked at the same place, but unfor­tu­nate­ly I nev­er got to meet him and talk comics (it was a pret­ty big place).

I some­how man­aged to get all three issues of Jef­f’s Atom­ic Man Comics back when they came out, and there’s a def­i­nite sense of fun to the pro­ceed­ings. Atom­ic Man is real­ly kind of a clas­sic-style comics hero. He has super-strength and invul­ner­a­bil­i­ty, but does­n’t appear to have any oth­er super­pow­ers beyond that. Jeff added some fresh ideas to the mix, in that Atom­ic Man is hap­pi­ly mar­ried, with two kids, liv­ing in San Fran­cis­co. Being from the Bay Area, that last part sort of mat­tered to me, because it seems like the tra­di­tion­al default for most super­heroes has been to base them in NYC (or some fic­ti­tious NYC surrogate).

For my Atom­ic Man salute, I thought a styl­is­tic exper­i­ment using Adobe Illus­tra­tor might be a good way of attempt­ing some­thing that could evoke the look of Jeff Bonivert’s work.

Atom­ic Man is ™ and © 2014 Jeff Bonivert.

Qui est Cette Fille?

BandetteI’m con­tin­u­ing with the theme from last time, talk­ing about good comics I’ve read recent­ly. The rea­son this post’s title is in French will become clear in a bit.

This time out, it’s Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover’s Ban­dette. From the moment I first saw art from this com­ic, I knew it would be right up my alley. But it’s only recent­ly that I was able to buy a copy. This is because up until now, Ban­dette did­n’t exist in phys­i­cal form. It was part of the Mon­key­brain line of dig­i­tal comics.

Here’s where I might sound like a bit of an old fogey, but I haven’t quite been able to cross over yet to pur­chas­ing comics that exist sole­ly in dig­i­tal form. I’m not anti-dig­i­tal media by any means! I love check­ing out my favorite web comics, and I love the fact that if I devel­oped a sud­den ran­dom crav­ing to buy mari­achi music at 2 am, I could pur­chase it instant­ly on iTunes. But even so, I can’t quite get past feel­ing a lit­tle odd over the fact there’s noth­ing phys­i­cal to show for those pur­chas­es. Feels a bit like buy­ing air, even though I know it’s not the case.

Any­how, in this case, I knew that as soon as Ban­dette became avail­able in phys­i­cal form, I’d want to pick up a copy. And I was not dis­ap­point­ed! Ban­dette Vol­ume One: Presto! is an absolute blast.

Her adven­tures take place in Paris (hence my post title). You might think from the visu­al that Ban­dette would be a super­heroine, but no! Actu­al­ly, she’s a thief! Albeit an incred­i­bly gift­ed one, (with “Presto!”, as she’d say) who occa­sion­al­ly comes to the aid of Police Inspec­tor Belgique.

Ban­dette is adorable, irre­press­ible, with je ne sais quoi and joie de vivre (and per­haps oth­er French phras­es that go beyond the extent of my lim­it­ed recall of my high school and col­lege French). You can’t help but like her! Some of it is due to the writ­ing (Paul Tobin dis­plays a tal­ent for giv­ing the dia­logue a French-feel­ing rhythm with­out resort­ing to pho­net­ic accents). A lot of it also comes from Colleen Coover’s art, which imbues Ban­dette with so much life and appeal, and spontaneity.

I’d think most read­ers junior high age and up (or old­er read­ers who are still some­what young at heart) will love this book. My only regret is that there isn’t a Vol­ume 2 ready to read right now! I’d def­i­nite­ly rec­om­mend check­ing Ban­dette out, if you get the chance.

Before I close, it seems appro­pri­ate (giv­en my tim­ing, and the top­ic) to wish all my site vis­i­tors a joyeux noel et bonne année!

Ban­dette is ™ and © Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover.

Go, Molly, Go!

Molly Danger ColorIt’s occurred to me that it’s been awhile since I talked about any new comics I’ve read that I liked, and there’ve been more than a few recent­ly. So I thought this would be a good time to do that again.

This time out, I’m going to talk about Jamal Igle’s Mol­ly Dan­ger. Jamal is an artist and writer who has done a lot of work for DC, Mar­vel and oth­er pub­lish­ers. Mol­ly is the result of his decid­ing to throw his hat into the cre­ator-owned ring. I applaud when cre­ators do this. Not only is this good for the cre­ators, but we fans and read­ers win too!

Mol­ly Dan­ger is a ten-year-old girl, who just hap­pens to also have super-strength and invul­ner­a­bil­i­ty. She’s the res­i­dent super­hero of Coop­ersville, NY, pro­tect­ing res­i­dents from the men­ace of the “Super­me­chs” that crop up from time to time. Mol­ly even has a whole sup­port team work­ing with her, called D.A.R.T. (the Dan­ger Action Response Team).

This vol­ume is the first of a pro­ject­ed four vol­ume series. The book’s for­mat is larg­er than a stan­dard com­ic and in hard­cov­er, kind of like some of the Euro­pean albums I’ve seen. It’s a fun, all-ages ride that Igle has craft­ed here. And “craft” is the right word, as every aspect of this is lov­ing­ly and appeal­ing­ly crafted.

I get some of the same sense of fun from this that I used to get from read­ing my favorite Mar­vel or DC Comics when I was a kid. Not to imply that this book is done in some kind of “retro” style, because it’s not. Igle and his crew are using all the mod­ern tools at their dis­pos­al. There are ele­ments in the writ­ing that you prob­a­bly would not have seen in an old com­ic, but they make the char­ac­ters more relat­able to both young and old­er mod­ern read­ers alike. If any­thing, I’d say that what Igle’s got going here is per­haps some­thing of a sign­post for how peo­ple could approach doing mod­ern all-ages super­hero comics.

Style­wise, I’d put Jamal in the camp of the “com­ic book real­ists.” I sus­pect per­haps artists like Kevin Maguire might have been an influ­ence on him. But for my draw­ing here, I elect­ed to go my own way with it. I was kind of curi­ous to see what Mol­ly might look like with the old school col­or palette.

If you’re still a fan of good all-ages comics like I am, you might want to give Mol­ly a look!

Mol­ly Dan­ger is ™ and © Jamal Igle and Com­pa­ny LLC.

Good Garbage!”

FCA Goodguy CoverFirst things first: yes, this is anoth­er FCA cov­er illus­tra­tion, which will appear in the Jan­u­ary 2014 issue of Roy Thomas’ Alter Ego, on stands in Decem­ber. And no: this is not Cap­tain Marvel!

The char­ac­ters here are Goodguy and his neme­sis, Dr. Sin. Pri­or to being asked to do this cov­er, I must con­fess I was unfa­mil­iar with them. They were cre­at­ed by fan artist Alan Jim Han­ley. As a young comics fan, I had no clue that there were that many oth­er peo­ple out there who also loved old comics, let alone that there were fans who did their own comics! So I nev­er came across the exis­tence of this strip back then.

My title for this post comes from Goodguy’s peri­od­ic catch­phrase, his equiv­a­lent of Cap­tain Mar­vel’s and Bil­ly Bat­son’s “Holy Moley!” Though we did­n’t wind up incor­po­rat­ing it into the cov­er direct­ly, my post here seemed a good place to use it.

In doing the cov­er, I had the oppor­tu­ni­ty to read a cou­ple of Goodguy sto­ries. Fun stuff! Along with his sense of humor, Han­ley clear­ly had a lot of love for old comics, and old comics char­ac­ters. I would­n’t mind see­ing some more.

Oh; I should men­tion too that the FCA issue I did this cov­er for also reprints a com­plete Goodguy sto­ry, appear­ing in col­or for the very first time. Yours tru­ly did the coloring.

Zita’s Back!

If you’ve checked in on my site from time to time, you may have seen my post­ing about the graph­ic nov­el Zita the Space­girl last year. My last com­ment on the sub­ject then (direct­ed at author Ben Hatke) was “…I hope you have plans for more Zita in the future.” Thank­ful­ly, the future is now!

I’m a lit­tle late men­tion­ing it, but Leg­ends of Zita the Space­girl (book #2 in the series now) came out last month. Based on the first book, Ben set my expec­ta­tions pret­ty high for this new one. And he did not dis­ap­point! Pret­ty much all the things I said last time hold true of this new book too. I don’t want to just repeat myself, but I would like to make some fur­ther obser­va­tions about Ben’s work here. The book also spurred some thoughts about comics in gen­er­al, which fit this discussion.

I’d men­tioned before how much charm Ben Hatke’s art­work has. There’s a nice, organ­ic loose­ness to his approach. He is unapolo­get­i­cal­ly a car­toon­ist (and I don’t under­stand why in some fan quar­ters, “car­toony” is a pejo­ra­tive. Per­son­al­ly, I’ve always grav­i­tat­ed towards artists who are strong styl­ists). I had­n’t made this asso­ci­a­tion pre­vi­ous­ly, but this time out I real­ized his work was remind­ing me a lit­tle bit of the com­ic Mars by Hempel and Wheat­ley, pub­lished back in the ’80s. While I can’t go so far as to pro­claim Hempel and Wheat­ley’s Mars was an influ­ence on Ben, it seems like visu­al­ly he’s com­ing from a sim­i­lar place. Or per­haps they have some influ­ences in com­mon. Whether there’s any con­nec­tion or not, in both cas­es, the visu­al approach allows for a much wider and more imag­i­na­tive range of char­ac­ters and sit­u­a­tions than per­haps a more real­is­tic take would allow.

And the uni­verse Ben has cre­at­ed for Zita is quite imag­i­na­tive! Lots of strange crea­tures and wild con­cepts going on in this book. With­out giv­ing any­thing away, there are a cou­ple of ideas in there that I think would even do Jack Kir­by proud.

Anoth­er thing I was more con­scious of this time is the fact that Ben is not afraid to do whole sequences with­out any dia­logue or cap­tions. He’s will­ing to let his art­work car­ry the whole bur­den of telling the sto­ry at points, through the action, facial expres­sions and pos­es. I think that’s great, and real­ly kind of brave. Doing a book like this (even as writer/artist), I imag­ine there’s a temp­ta­tion to fall back more on the words to car­ry the weight of your sto­ry. While it might be more of a chal­lenge, it can be much more sat­is­fy­ing in some ways if you can get as much as pos­si­ble of the sto­ry across using just your visu­als. The bot­tom line is that comics is a visu­al medi­um. It is quite pos­si­ble to do a com­ic with no words (in fact, it’s been done sev­er­al times over the years). But it’s not pos­si­ble to do a com­ic with­out pictures.

There’s been a lot of debate in recent years about there not being enough comics that are appro­pri­ate for kids. Often the way peo­ple attempt to address that is to do spe­cif­ic “kids’ comics.” In my opin­ion, that’s a risky way to go. The poten­tial pit­fall in that approach is that there can be a temp­ta­tion dumb things down, and talk down to the kids. Kids aren’t stu­pid. If you think back to when you were a kid, you knew it when peo­ple were talk­ing down to you, and I’ll bet you did­n’t like it any more then than you do now. Per­son­al­ly, I believe the bet­ter approach is to attempt to do “all-ages” comics that work on mul­ti­ple lev­els at once. Bring­ing this back on-top­ic, the Zita books are a good exam­ple of that. A younger read­er will appre­ci­ate them on one lev­el, while old­er read­ers will find themes and aspects that res­onate with them on a whole oth­er lev­el. Much like the best chil­dren’s lit­er­a­ture has always done.

I guess I should talk a lit­tle about the illustration(s) I did to accom­pa­ny this arti­cle (since this site’s sup­posed to be about me draw­ing!). This image is kind of riff­ing off some visu­als and sit­u­a­tions in the book. I don’t want to say too much about the plot and spoil any­thing. But I thought it would be fun to take the poster idea from the book and real­ly do it up, like a full-blown silkscreened poster (inspired by the work of Strongstuff, AKA Tom Whalen).

Any­way, if you like real­ly good all-ages comics, I rec­om­mend you get your hands on this one. If you haven’t already picked up the first vol­ume, Zita the Space­girl, get ’em both!

Before “Before Watchmen”

The image I’m post­ing this time is not a new one (it’s already over in the Gal­leries side of my site), but I’ve had some friends make the case that with DC Comics doing all their “Before Watch­men” books right now, it’s a good time to call atten­tion to it anew here on the front page.

There’s a sto­ry behind this piece. A friend of mine in the ani­ma­tion field, Lance Falk, has these sketch­books he pass­es around. They have art by some amaz­ing artists. Chances are if you can think of some big name artist, Lance very like­ly has art by him or her in one of his books. Way back when we were work­ing on “The Real Adven­tures of Jon­ny Quest” togeth­er, Lance asked if I’d be will­ing to do a sketch for his then-cur­rent book. It’s both huge­ly flat­ter­ing and daunt­ing, once you see the lev­el of work oth­ers have done.

Lance sug­gest­ed he might like to see the Watch­men done as if Kir­by had drawn them. I wound up mak­ing a whole cov­er pro­duc­tion out of it, as if it were done in the mid-’60s. Lance was very hap­py with the end result, and I was huge­ly relieved that it was well-received.

Fast for­ward some months lat­er (maybe even a year), and I find out that this sketch­book had been cir­cu­lat­ing fur­ther. It had crossed orig­i­nal Watch­men artist and co-cre­ator Dave Gib­bons’ path in Lon­don. When I first heard he’d seen the book with my draw­ing in it, I must admit I was tak­en aback. But Lance assured me that Mr. Gib­bons actu­al­ly got a big kick out of what I’d done. Once again, I was huge­ly relieved.

Fast for­ward to more recent times, and the pub­li­ca­tion of Mr. Gib­bons’ book, Watch­ing the Watch­men, which com­piled all kinds of back­ground mate­r­i­al on that piv­otal work. He appar­ent­ly liked this Kir­by Watch­men cov­er well enough, he asked me if I’d mind his includ­ing it in the book. What do you think I said? 🙂

Thanks much, Lance and Mr. Gibbons!

The Ultimate Comic Strip

I see this mon­th’s zip­ping by, and as busy as I am, I’m just not at a point where I can post any­thing cur­rent and new yet. So instead of that, here’s some­thing old that might be of interest.

This was done while I attend­ed Art Cen­ter in Pasade­na, back in the ear­ly ’90s. Some of the specifics are lost to time now, but I had an illus­tra­tion class at the time, and for our final, we were to do a self-por­trait. The para­me­ters of the assign­ment and how you could inter­pret it were wide open.

I was­n’t sure what to do, how to approach it, and was wrack­ing my brains. Until one of my friends in the class made the off­hand com­ment, “Oh, you’ll just do yours as a com­ic, right?” It was one of those fore­head-slap­ping moments. I was too close to it to see the solu­tion myself, though it was the obvi­ous way to go in the eyes of my friends in the class who knew my inter­est in comics.

And this was the result. Though I think I draw a bit bet­ter now (I did this twen­ty years ago now?! Yeesh!), I still kind of like this. I think most artists can relate, at some point or anoth­er. Any­way, enjoy! I hope to have some new cur­rent work to post next time.

Missile Mouse

I men­tioned ear­li­er that from time to time, I intend to do posts of “inspi­ra­tional stuff.” Basi­cal­ly, we’re talk­ing comics I’ve come across that I think are real­ly good, and kind of inspire you to draw. So here’s another.

If you’ve ever checked out the list of artists over in my side­bar, per­haps you’ve looked at the work of Jake Park­er. He’s one of those artists that seem to strad­dle mul­ti­ple media, includ­ing comics and ani­ma­tion. His stuff is very imag­i­na­tive, appeal­ing and a lot of fun to look at.

One of Jake’s cre­ations, Mis­sile Mouse, has now been fea­tured in two books: The Star Crush­er and Res­cue on Tanki­um 3 (Actu­al­ly, Mis­sile Mouse has appeared in three books, if you want to count Flight Explor­er Vol. 1) . You can buy them here. Mis­sile Mouse is a tough lit­tle char­ac­ter who usu­al­ly has to face down char­ac­ters and sit­u­a­tions that are much big­ger than him, but he nev­er backs down. He always does what he has to do.

In my opin­ion, one of the best aspects of these books is the way every­thing’s so clear­ly been thought out in great detail. Jake is a “world-builder.” He plain­ly puts a lot of thought into design­ing even the tini­est prop. In the back of Res­cue on Tanki­um 3 is a sec­tion where among oth­er things, he goes into great detail about all of Mis­sile Mouse’s gear, how it’s assem­bled, what prin­ci­ples it works on. The lev­el of back detail and thought put into these books makes for a fun and rich read­ing expe­ri­ence. They’re good all-ages reads, and worth check­ing out.

Since it’s my art­blog, of course I’ve got to put up some art. So up top is my Mis­sile Mouse fan art piece. As usu­al, my ani­ma­tion train­ing seems to have com­pelled me to try to get as close to on-mod­el as I can.  I did some exper­i­ment­ing with the col­or meth­ods, because if I can’t do that here, where can I? It struck me that most­ly we’ve seen Mis­sile Mouse inter­act­ing with beings who are a good deal big­ger than he is (play­ing the “David and Goliath” card very well), so I thought it might be fun to see him inter­act with some­thing much small­er than himself.

Mis­sile Mouse is ™ and © Jake Parker.

UPDATE: If you look in the Com­ments below, you’ll see that Jake has seen this post. He appar­ent­ly liked my draw­ing well enough to post it on his own site here. I’m very flat­tered! Thanks, Jake!